Gram-positive infections in patients with end-stage renal disease

  • Mercia K. Spare

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Gram-positive microorganisms, specifically coagulase-negative staphylococci are the most common species recovered from clinical culture specimens of patients with end-stage renal disease. The propensity of coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) to cause infection in this patient group has been widely debated. However, it is still unclear how this usually avirulent commensal microorganism produces infection that contributes to high rates of morbidity and mortality in patients with end-stage renal disease. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the rate, geographical distribution, molecular and phenotypic mechanisms of Gram-positive
microorganisms associated with infection in renal dialysis patients. In addition, it sought to assess the value of early serological diagnosis of dialysis catheter-associated infection and the effect of antimicrobial treatment regimens on the faecal carriage of enteric microorganisms.
In this study, the incidence of haemodialysis catheter-associated infection was established with the Meditrend audit tool. This tool was used to assess the infection outcomes of catheter insertion and management procedures until the catheter was explanted. Introduction of a catheter management protocol decreased the incidence of catheter-related infection. Staphylococcal species recovered from episodes of haemodialysis catheter-associated infection and continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD)-associated peritonitis were genotyped by determination of macrorestriction profiles with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. This highlighted horizontal transfer of microorganisms between different patients and the environment. The phenotypic characteristics of these strains were also investigated to determine characteristics that could be used as markers for dialysis catheter-associated infection. The expression of elastase, lipase and esterase by CNS was significantly associated with infection. A rapid enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay incorporating a novel staphylococcal antigen (lipid S) was used to evaluate the early detection of anti-staphylococcal immunoglobulin gamma in patient sera. The comparison of culture positive and culture negative patients demonstrated a steady state of immune activation in both groups. However anti-lipid S serum antibody titres > 1000 were found to be a predictor of infection. The effect on faecal carriage of vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) and Clostridium difficile toxins in patients treated with CAPD when empiric cephalosporin therapy was substituted for piperacillin/tazobactam was investigated. The introduction of piperacillin/tazobactam demonstrated a decrease in the faecal carriage of VRE.
Date of AwardNov 2004
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorTom S.J. Elliott (Supervisor), Peter Lambert (Supervisor) & Tony Worthington (Supervisor)


  • dialysis catheterinfection
  • pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
  • serodiagnosis
  • phentypic characteristics
  • surveillance

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